The British-born Gugu Mbatha-Raw has been working so steadily as an actor in both the UK and America that you might not realize just how many things you’ve seen her in over the years, even before her breakout, one-two punch of leading roles in the 2013 period drama Belle and 2014’s music industry love story Beyond the Lights, both of which were directed by women—something that continues to mean a great deal to the actress. In fact, throughout her years in television and film, Mbatha-Raw has always sought out films with strong female characters at the center and/or works helmed by female filmmakers and scripted by female screenwriters.

After parts in such works as Concussion, Free State of Jones and The Wachowskis’ insane Jupiter Ascending, she took on more recent substantial supporting parts in films like A Wrinkle In Time and Miss Sloane, as well as the ensemble cast of Netflix’s The Cloverfield Paradox. Her latest film, Fast Color, was an audience and critical favorite at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and is finally making it to theaters thanks to the Lionsgate imprint Codeblack Films. Directed by Julia Hart (and co-written by Hart and Jordan Horowitz). The movie focuses on Ruth, who is constantly on the run from those who wish to examine and experiment on her because she has abilities. In order to keep her family (including a young daughter) safe, she left home years ago but finds herself coming back to the family farm when she has no where else to hide. It turns out that her mother (Lorraine Toussaint) and daughter (Saniyya Sidney) also have powers, and the three must figure out how to proceed as the world comes closing in. As it turns out, this family may be the key to helping save a world that is slowly dying around them, if the paranoid folks chasing them don’t destroy these very special women.

/Film spoke with Mbatha-Raw recently to discuss the fundamental differences between Fast Color and every other film about people with special powers, how a pair of kick-ass combat boots helped her find her character, and how working in a Jim Henson-created universe is a bit of dream job for her. Fast Color is in theaters now.

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Cobra Kai became an instant hit on YouTube Premium because millions of viewers wanted to see where Johnny Lawrence and Daniel Larusso are today. But while watching 10 episodes of Cobra Kai, fans became equally invested in the new generation of high school students training in Karate, especially Miguel, played by Xolo Mariduena.

Johnny really took Miguel under his wing, even more so than his own estranged son Robbie. But training in Cobra Kai make Miguel a little too aggressive  and cost him his relationship with Samantha LaRusso. Miguel beat Robbie in the All Valley Karate Tournament, but only be exploiting Robbie’s injury, sort of like the way John Kreese (Martin Kove) told Johnny to sweep the leg.

Mariduena spoke with /Film by phone before the premiere of Cobra Kai’s second season. Season two will introduce new characters, like the returning Kreese and new Cobra Kai student Tori (Peyton List). Cobra Kai season two premieres on April 24 on YouTube Premium.

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Getting a film made is one of the most challenging experiences anyone can go through. From writing the script, to securing the financing, to picking a crew, to casting the film, to finally shooting and editing it, filmmaking requires a huge diversity of technical and creative skills.

But in today’s media-saturated world, it’s arguably just as hard to convince people to care about your small indie film. If you have a tiny movie, how do you get it out there? What strategy do you use? What elements do you prioritize?

I had a chance to chat with writer/director Megan Griffiths about how she approached these problems for her latest film, Sadiewhich is out now on home video (Disclosure: I consider Megan a friend, plus I did some behind-the-scenes photos for Sadie.). Check out the video of our interview read a transcript of the conversation. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
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russo brothers

A few weeks back, I sat down with the Joe and Anthony Russo, the brother filmmaker team behind Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and the upcoming conclusion to the Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgame. Unlike the usual Hollywood junket, we were not shown the movie. And the directing duo would not entertain any questions about plot, so this interview is completely spoiler-free.

In my conversation with the Russo Brothers, we discuss Stan Lee‘s final MCU cameo, the movies they watched before making Endgame, the change of tone and point of view, Captain Marvel’s changing look, the challenge to create lasting stakes and impact, the tightrope walk of being honest with the press when it comes to spoilers, and the unprecedented marketing campaign for this film, which somehow avoids revealing any of the major action scenes.

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Cobra Kai revisited Ralph Macchio’s Daniel LaRusso 35 years after his victory at the All Valley Karate Tournament. His student didn’t win this time, but season two promises to see Daniel reopen Miyagi-Do Karate in Mr. Miyagi’s honor, including training his daughter Samantha.

Cobra Kai became YouTube Premium’s biggest hit and they ordered the second season within a week, after 20 million views. Now the anticipation for season two is even higher than it was for the return of the beloved franchise. Daniel is going to have to face John Kreese (Martin Kove) again, and even relive some forgotten moments from The Karate Kid Part III.

Macchio spoke with /Film by phone out of New York before the premiere of Cobra Kai’s second season. He’d just gotten back from a warm welcome at SXSW and gave us more insights into what challenges still face the original Karate Kid. Season two of Cobra Kai premieres at on April 24 on YouTube Premium.

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Cobra Kai season 2 cast

The one returning Karate Kid cast member we didn’t get to interview during the lead-up to season one of Cobra Kai was Martin Kove. That’s because he was a surprise in the very last scene of the season finale. Now that he’s a regular for season two, Kove was available to talk about Cobra Kai and the Karate Kid legacy.

The return of John Kreese was just as surprising to Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), who believed that Kreese was dead. Now season two can explore how Johnny can turn Cobra Kai around when the worst influence of all returns to exert his chokehold over the dojo.

Kove spoke with /Film by phone before the season premiere of Cobra Kai. All 10 episodes of Cobra Kai season two premiere on YouTube Premium on Wednesday, April 24.

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shazam editor

Just like director David F. Sandberg, editor Michel Aller came into Shazam! from the horror genre. But as odd a transition as that may seem, going from editing films like The Nun and Annabelle: Creation to editing this year’s most joyful superhero movie was pretty seamless for Aller.

“The approach doesn’t differ that much, it’s mainly the content,” Aller told /Film in a phone interview. “I’m working on a comedy so you’re trying to make the laughs land just like how scares land.”

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Child's Play remake

This week, I had the chance to get an early look at a scene from the upcoming Child’s Play remake, which just released a brand new trailer. I also spoke with director Lars Klevberg and producers Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg about why they wanted to modernize a popular horror character, their approach to the new story, and more.

Check out our description of the scene and their quotes below, including some brief updates about Grahame-Smith’s rumored Fantastic Four script and the feature-length Kung Fury film. Read More »

apollo 11 trailer

During the 2019 SXSW Film Festival, I sat down with Apollo 11 director Todd Douglas Miller and space historian Robert Pearlman.

This is a film that I fell in love with from the moment that I saw it during the world premiere at the Ray during Sundance.  While I regret that I was unable to see the film on an IMAX screen, Apollo 11 is one of those films that you must experience on the biggest screen you can find. It’s not often that a documentary crosses over into the editing category during awards ceremonies, Apollo 11 is one of those films that I hope people strongly consider for Best Editing.

Here’s my interview with Miller and Pearlman, where we dig into how this massive undertaking came together.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Yuen Woo-Ping has been the go-to name in martial arts choreography ever since he helped launch Jackie Chan with his first to comedies, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master. So much so that when Hollywood started incorporating elaborate martial arts, they hired Yuen to choreograph The Matrix, Kill Bill and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Yuen is back with another Hong Kong martial arts movie this week. Master Z: Ip Man Legacy follows Max Zhang’s character from Ip Man 3 in a brand do martial arts adventure. Other great fighters are coming at him from all sides, including Michelle Yeoh, Dave Bautista and Tony Jaa.

Yuen Woo-Ping answered some questions from /Film via a translator, and revealed he was almost involved in James Wan’s Aquaman film. Master Z: Ip Man Legacy is in theaters today

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